General FAQ

Quick Links

About Tentsmiths

Why are your tents more expensive than others I could buy?

When you purchase a Tentsmiths tent, you are paying for quality, and for a tent that can last decades if you care for it. Find out more about the quality of a Tentsmiths tent here.

What are your tents made out of?

The cotton canvas we use is the strongest, longest lasting, most weather proof and flame resistant out there. We want your Tentsmiths tent to be your shelter for a long time to come, which is why we use Sunforger brand water repellent, rot and mildew resistant, flame resistant 100% cotton army duck in 10.10 oz. weight. This tightly woven, high thread count fabric is preshrunk for the Marine Industry and factory finished with Sunforger, a baked in, invisible, durable process that makes the canvas mildew resistant and water repellent. Sunforger Army Duck canvas offers the best of the old world and the new, a fabric with the appearance of the past and the livability we demand today.

We will make tents, tarps etc. out of a few choices, and those include:
• 13 oz Sunforger Canvas
• Tan or pearl gray color canvas for the tents that historically require those colors
• Oilskin for tarps and shelters 
If you have something else in mind, give us a call or send us an email, but be prepared that the answer might be no.

How waterproof is your tent canvas?

Having spent a ton of time under Tentsmiths tents in all sorts of precipitation, our tents will keep you dry. The canvas will absorb some water, so they are heavy when wet. And if you let the canvas sag, and puddles form on top, eventually water will seep through the seams. But if you treat your tent right, it will keep you dry.

How waterproof are your oilskin tarps?

Oilskin is completely water impervious. Water can nor get in,  nor can it get out. Sometimes you might get a little water beading at the seams, but it is easy to treat with a small tin of Martexin which you can buy from us, or from any number of online vendors.

How fireproof is your oilskin tarp?

It is hard to answer questions about Oilskin tarps and fire. Campers have used our tarps for years with no problems, but our insurance company will not allow us to say much more than that. For safety’s sake we must tell you to keep this tarp away from fires. 

I am a long-time Tentsmiths customer and would like to talk to former owner(s) Peter and/or Deborah, how do I get ahold of them?

Peter and Deborah are happily retired and enjoying being grandparents, but feel free to drop us an email at [email protected] and we’ll happily pass on your good wishes and contact info.

Special Orders

Do you make tents out of linen or hemp?

We get it, we love accuracy as much as you do. We’ve worked and presented in time periods from the 1100’s through WW2. But, well, there are limits. First off, most fabrics before the mid-19th century will leave you wet. We’re not saying damp, we’re saying WET. We have quotes from the American Revolution that indicate tents just “slow down the rain.” You and those who come to see you really don’t want that. We promise we are constantly on the look out for fabric options that have a more authentic feel without making it impossible for a modern presenter to do what you do best.
When hemp production is available with the waterproofing that modern people expect, we’ll let you know.

Do you make tents in colored fabric?

All our tents are made in white canvas only for some very good reasons:
• All cotton colored canvas fades fairly quickly. We want your tent to look good in 20 years.
• All colored canvas that lasts a long time are synthetic and don’t breathe, nor do they look as historical.
• Dark colors will heat up your tent, and will filter the sunlight making your stuff into funny colors.
• At night, a small light source can light the inside of a white tent.
• Our white canvas is treated for water repellant, mildew resistance and fire retardant, not all color canvas can be treated in the same fashion.
• We do put fancy colored trim on to tents, and we encourage customers to paint stripes or designs on your tent.
• Most of the colorful historical tents were dyed in wool or silk. We can’t get strong canvas made of wool or silk. Most of those tents had an outer layer and an inner layer, which make the tents very heavy. Without an army of servants to put up your tents, most modern folks can’t hope to actually copy the super fancy tents of ages past.

Why don’t you hand sew the visible seams?

• We have engineered our tents for machine sewing so that they are strong and long lasting. Historically, a tent would not be expected to last more than a few years. We want you to have yours for at least a decade or more.
• There are some hand sewists who are incredibly fast, but the heavy duty canvas that we use is really hard on the hands. Our massive industrial sewing machines are super fast and allow our stitchers to keep at it without ruining their hands, wrists, and bodies. 
• The amount we would have to charge for a super skilled sewist to take the time to hand stitch your tent would be astronomically more than we charge now.

Will you build me this obscure tent I found in a random woodcut/sketch/notebook?

We have patterns for a lot more tents than are on our website, so give us a call or send us an email and ask if we’ve ever made a tent based on the one you’ve seen. If we have a lot of tents on order already, it can take a long time for us to get to a very specialized tent. Additionally, the cost will be greater for a one-off tent.

Picking the right Tent

How do I know what size tent I/my family will need?

Here is the best way to figure out what size tent you will need: take a rope into your backyard, some chalk on your driveway, or even some painter’s tape in your living room, and lay out the footprint of the size tent you think you want. Then fill that space with all your gear, your sleeping bags or beds, and chairs or tables you might take with you. Then try moving through your space, laying down, getting dressed, all the things you will want to do once you are actually in the tent. Sine everyone uses their tents slightly differently, there is no one easy answer, but if you do a little work before you order it can make a big difference to your comfort later.

Which tent is acceptable for my unit/organization/time period?

We will gladly share any and all documentation we have for the tent you desire but we can not guarantee that any particular unit or governing body will accept the tent we make you. We will provide photos and swatches on request in addition to historical documentation, but it is up to you to verify these with any group to which you belong.

I need a tent for a specific event, can you deliver it to me there?

The first time you set up your tent should really be before you need to use it. Especially since tents require ropes and poles, which may need adjusting. We would much rather ship your tent to you prior to your event so you can set it up, check it over, and make sure it will fill your needs before you must depend on it. If we’re at an event we might assist in your set-up, but once you own the tent, it will be your responsibility to set it up and care for it.

Caring for your Tent

How I do I keep my tent in top shape while it is set up?

• Canvas will relax and get baggy in dry & windy conditions, it will shrink and tighten when damp. This is normal
• You should adjust your stakes and ropes to accommodate the canvas.

What is the best way to store my tent?

• Brush it off when taking it down to remove as much vegetation and dirt as possible. 
• If you must clean your tent, do so only with water,
• Make sure your canvas is fully dry before storing.
• Store the tent where there is airflow, we don’t recommend plastic totes, because they trap moisture
• Your tent is treated for mildew and mold resistance, but improper storage can lead to both.

What should I do if I get a rip or hole in my canvas?

• Rips happen, we provide a scrap of your canvas in each order so you can hand-sew small patches yourself.
• Do not use glue to repair holes, it will become inflexible and strain the rest of the canvas, leading to bigger rips.
• We are happy to repair your Tentsmiths tent, give us a call, or email photos, we may be able to quote you before you ship it to us.
• Stake loops will wear out before the rest of your tent. 
– To help them last, do not pound the loops into the ground, just the stake.
– Use round stakes when possible
– When pounding stakes put loop at the top hook, so the stake does not rub against the loop while you pound
• Mud flaps will rot before the rest of your tent, there is no way to avoid this.
• We’d be happy to replace your mud flaps and stake loops. Give us a call, or email photos, we may be able to quote you before you ship it to us.

My tent got dirty, how do I clean it?

As much as we would like to say don’t get your tent dirty, we’re all only human, right? Our dog has run over the roof of our tent with muddy paws while we were trying to put it away, our son spilled grape juice on the back wall of our tent. Once, the roof vent in our trailer was blown off by a fierce windstorm and one of our tents was folded up right underneath that roof vent. Things happen. Having said that, the best way to clean a Tentsmiths tent is to let is dry and brush it off. A good stiff scrub brush can get off a lot of dirt once the canvas is dry. But for things like mildew, grease or anything else, washing with soap will destroy the weatherproofing. If you absolutely must we recommend Iosso products for both cleaning and then for re-waterproofing once you are done with the cleaning.

How do I clean my Oilskin tarp?

The treatment on our oilskin is pretty resilient. You can definitely hose off your tarp with no problem. If you have a particularly sticky mess, we recommend cold water and either plain soap, or Dawn detergent. Industrial cleaners and most detergents are a bit too much, but plain soap will do just fine.

How do I re-treat my Oilskin?

You should not need to re-treat your entire tarp, but you might find a spot or two that you would like to re-seal. Martexin refinishing compound is from the folks who made your oilskin, so it is the same compound used in the first place. We sell it, but you can buy it from any number of online retailers. Just take a little bit in your fingers to warm it up, then rub it into your tarp. That’s it!

Ordering FAQ

Have questions about ordering? Take a look at our ordering FAQ!